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   Frequently asked questions

Butterfly at American Museum of Natural

Please read the campaign brief from Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change.

*Not legal advice - intended solely for educational purposes!

What is the ICJ?


The ICJ, or International Court of Justice, is the principal court of the United Nations. It exists to settle disputes between countries, as well as clarify matters of international law through advisory opinions. Our campaign helped support the passage of a UN General Assembly resolution seeking an advisory opinion on the legal rights of future generations. (Advisory opinions are currently also being sought from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and ITLOS, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, on the topic of climate change and state obligations.) Although much of international law is technically non-binding, opinions of the ICJ hold great legal and moral weight, and our strategy is endorsed by numerous legal experts.

Why rights of future generations?


In addition to the grave impacts of the climate crisis on natural habitats and biodiversity, it is important to our team to center frontline communities, who often are not fully represented in the existing legal system. Much of our legal framework was developed by law students from island nations in the Pacific, and our co-signers include Green Climate Campaign Africa and other advocacy organizations around the world.  

What is your campaign's timeframe?


On March 29th, 2023, the UN General Assembly adopted a version of our resolution by consensus, formally requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. This resolution was introduced and championed by Vanuatu, and the youth movement is immensely grateful to Vanuatu for their support. The UN Secretary-General will communicate this outcome to the Court, and the Court will then review the resolution. Following this, the ICJ will call for written and oral submissions. We call on young people from all around the world to ensure that our voices are heard in this process!

What are the goal outcomes?


In addition to encouraging UN representatives to confront the impacts of their actions (or lack thereof) on future generations, we hope that an advisory opinion will raise public consciousness, and encourage setting more ambitious goals under the Paris Agreement. Currently, Paris Agreement goals fall far short of what is needed.
Although UN Secretary-General Guterres has repeatedly called for more urgent action, more momentum is needed in the UN system to translate such goals into policy. An advisory opinion from the ICJ would be a powerful tool for courts around the world, and help solidify the consensus of 97% of climate scientists. Already, youth climate lawsuits have succeeded in Colombia, the Netherlands, and other countries around the world. We believe an opinion from the ICJ has the potential to empower young people globally, and ensure that the law hears our voices.

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